Last May, several critics got together at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen and, perhaps a bit in the spirit of the Oberhausen Manifesto, wrote up a “Pamphlet for Activist Film Criticism” (scroll down for the English version) in order “to raise uncomfortable questions for ourselves, our colleagues, filmmakers and the industry… More than 80 international colleagues expressed their solidarity and underlined the relevance of the issues addressed in the paper.” The pamphlet called for the creation of a Critics’ Week Berlin, loosely modeled on the Critics’ Week programs in Cannes, Venice and Locarno, “an open space for debate, a place to defend a culture of passionate dissent and forms of discourse beyond the usual talk sessions.”
And it’s actually happening. From February 5 through 12, “ten remarkable examples of international cinema” will be screened to “raise questions that we will joyfully and polemically explore with a group of international guests.” Titles are forthcoming.
Since the last update on the lineup for the 65th Berlinale (February 5 through 15) now taking shape (previous rounds: 1, 2, 3 and 4), the festival’s announced the opening film for the 2015 edition and completed the lineup for Perspektive Deutsches Kino.
Isabel Coixet’s Nobody Wants the Night with Juliette Binoche, Rinko Kikuchi and Gabriel Byrne “takes place in 1908, in the Arctic seclusion of Greenland. The adventure film focuses on courageous women and ambitious men who put anything at stake for love and glory.” Here’s the first trailer:
Perspektive Deutsches Kino 2015 will open with Tom Sommerlatte’s directorial debut, Im Sommer wohnt er unten (Summers Downstairs). It’s “about two brothers who meet with their partners at their parent’s summer house on the French Atlantic coast. From the start, they are caught in a web of dependencies and their roles in their families. However, through a series of power plays, constellations begin to shift. Filmed in cinemascope, Sommerlatte gives his ensemble of performers so much scope that the protagonists’ individual stories take on universal dynamics.”
In December, we took a look at the first round of seven films lined up for the section highlighting young German filmmakers. Today’s additions, all of them world premieres, with notes from the festival:
- Anabela Angelovska’s 30-minute documentary Hakie – Haki. Ein Leben als Mann. (Hakie – Haki. Living as a Man.) is “about 71-year-old Hakie, who was born as a girl but raised as a boy in Albania.”
- Filippa Bauer’s documentary Freiräume (Unoccupied) focuses “on the living spaces of four women who are separated, divorced or widowed. Heard in off-camera interviews, but not seen, they talk about the spatial and emotional void that has been left by their children after they moved out—and how they are dealing with this situation.”
- Brodie Higgs’s Elixir. A “group of provocative artists lives together in a very elaborately decorated factory loft in Berlin. They are planning a political-artistic action at the fashion show of a hip designer.”
- Moritz Krämer’s Bube Stur (Stubborn Boy) is “the tale of a young city woman who is assigned work hours at a milk farmer’s in a small village in the Black Forest Highlands. The mountains in the background form an impressively vast panorama that stands in contrast to the narrow world of the villagers. The naturalistic images, somewhat documentary in style, help acquaint the viewer with the idiosyncrasies of the language, land and people.” With Ceci Chuh, Niels Braun and Monika Wiedemer.
- Lisa Sperling’s Sag mir Mnemosyne (Tell Me Mnemosyne) “sets out to find traces of her deceased great uncle, cinematographer Karl-Heinz Hummel…. An essayistic documentary film whose images are a tribute to the great movies of the past.”
- Saskia Walker and Ralf Hechelmann’s Sprache:Sex (Sex:Speak). “In individual, very personal conversations, which are marked by a great openness, 13- to 74-year-olds talk about their intimate private lives and sexuality. The filmmakers have assembled these interviews so that the subjective views of their protagonists come together to form a bigger story that expands into the philosophical.”
Meantime, the 12th annual Berlinale Co-Production Market (February 8 through 10) will present 36 new feature film projects from 28 countries, including works-in-progress by Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox), Benjamin Naishtat (The History of Fear) and Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy (The Tribe). And the European Film Market‘s announced a round of new initiatives.
Sundance (January 22 through February 1) has announced the panels lined up for Art of Film Weekend (January 29 through 31). “The series will kick off with Robert Redford and George Lucas discussing their careers and creative process with Leonard Maltin and continue throughout the second half of the Festival with additional panels on topics including artistry in film music, virtual reality, visual design, editing and documentary.”
Slamdance “has selected James Franco’s drama Yosemite as its closing-night film on Jan. 29,” reports Variety‘s Dave McNary. “Gabrielle Demeestere directed the film from her own script in an adaptation of three of Franco’s short stories. Yosemite, set in the fall of 1985, follows the intertwining tales of three 4th grade friends in the suburban paradise of Palo Alto as the threat of a killer mountain lion looms over the community.”
And finally, some news from Switzerland: “Emmanuel Carrère, the French author, screenwriter and director will be the focus of the Festival del film Locarno’s spring event’s third edition, L’immagine e la parola (19 – 22 March). The Festival has invited Carrère, a multi-faceted talent with a taste for formal experiment, to curate a program of screenings and encounters that will explore his creative world, and investigate relationships between film and the written word.”